People ask ‘how did you get into HR?’ – well, by accident, to be honest. I got a job as the Store Secretary for a large fashion retailer in their flagship store in London. A lot of my work was with the Personnel team, and I found what they did fascinating. I love working with people and the variety of things they got involved with was intriguing.
My HR career started because of a couple of fantastic managers – they coached, cajoled and downright made me make a career of it, because they saw potential in me, even if I had quite a lot of rough edges. They showed me how to unlock a passion for work in someone, and I can never thank them enough for that lesson.
My career has been about learning ever since. The importance of knowing the reality of your business, rather than looking at it from the 'ivory tower' of Head Office and the difference between HR in a large corporation and being the 'stand alone HR', with no admin team, training team, reward team or training budget.
I've been lucky enough to do both. I've built an HR Department from scratch, putting in place processes that actually worked, dealing with issues that had long been ignored, and getting rid of stuff that just wasn’t needed, and I've worked for International businesses, dealing with large and complex strategies.
The Companies I have worked for didn’t want an HR clone – always formal, always emotionless, always purely business. They employed me for my creativity, my individuality, and my passion. We worked together by challenging and being challenged, and then finding the best way forward. One HR Director particularly liked my tendency to ask what he called ‘pokey questions’. Why do we do this like this? What if we did this? Could we try that?
So why become a consultant? Well partly COVID. It changed everything. From the way that we work, to what we want out of our working lives. I want to help people, see them get the results that they want, but also have time and energy left for me – I love being outdoors, growing stuff, walking, birding, going to the football or cricket and having a few beers with my friends. I love working with businesses and helping them sort out problems. HR is no longer the tea and sympathy brigade that it was when I first started – we are now proper business partners. The kick I get out of it – whether it’s HR or Training – is being able to help managers do their 'people' things better and getting rid of the pain points.
What I’ve learned over my career is people have hired me for me. Yes, my skills and knowledge are essential to do the job that I do, but the reason they have hired me is the way I do it. I want to enjoy my work and enjoy being with the people that I work with. I don’t believe in being stiff and formal, and certainly don’t want to blind people with endless jargon. HR is about people, and people are all different – they can be good, bad or indifferent, but everyone has a story, and everyone needs something different from their HR support.
I don’t believe in overcomplicating things (don’t even get me started on the Company Car Policy at one of my previous employers), but I do believe in doing things right – and those two things do not have to be mutually exclusive.